Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cards Outlast Bucs To Take Giftwrapped 4-3 Win

Can't ask for a better start to a another big series. With one gone in the first, Neil Walker drilled a single through the right side and then trotted home when Cutch took Adam Wainwright deep, losing a ball up the right field line to make it 2-0. Charlie Morton walked Matt Carpenter, but a Carlos Beltran bullet to second was turned into a 4-3 DP, and another liner ended the frame. The Pirates added on in the second when Jordy Mercer went deep to left, and Morton tossed a quieter 1-2-3 inning.

Pittsburgh went down gently in the third. Tony Cruz got the Cards first hit to open their half, a grounder through the right side. Two outs later, Carpenter singled on a sharply hit ball off Garrett Jones' mitt, but Charlie got Beltran to pop out, and it stayed 3-0 after three frames.

Mercer singled with two down in the fourth, turning the order over and helping run Wainwright's pitch count to 80, important because he's been in a groove since Jordy's homer. After a pair of soft outs, a walk and a Jay double over the third base bag had Charlie in hot water, but he got Cruz on a soft hopper to second to escape.

The Bucs had a chance to add on in the fifth. Starling Marte was hit in the back on an 0-2 pitch and stole second easily on the next pitch. A Walker roller moved him to third. With the infield in, Cutch K'ed looking, never taking a cut during the at-bat, and Pedro bounced out to first to leave the runner at third. Morton worked a nice, quiet frame.

Wainwright came out for the sixth with 95 pitches under his belt. He walked Russ Martin, but Jones followed with a 3-6-3 DP and Andrew Lambo K'ed; Wainwright's cutter/curve combo has been brutal against Buc lefties. Ground Chuck got everything on the ground, but the Cards made a game of it. A pair of grounders and a chopper all made it through the infield to load the bases. David Freese hit into a broken bat 6-3 DP to make it 3-1, after Martin made a great stab of a pitch behind the hitter to save a run and keep the DP in order. Morton fell behind Jay 3-0, and instead of walking him with the open base, he tried to pick the ouside corner, and two pitches later Jay pushed a ball the opposite way through the SS hole to make it 3-2.

It took Wainwright 122 pitches, but he gave Mike Matheny seven innings and the Pirates a lesson on not wasting scoring opps. Morton was done after six, giving up two runs on seven hits with two walks and three K, getting 75% grounders tonight as Justin Wilson took over, with Gaby going to first and Jones to right, ending Lambo's first MLB outing.  With an out, Wilson nicked Jermaine Curtis above the knee with a pitch, but got a pair of soft grounders to end the frame.

Trevor Rosenthal toed the rubber in the eighth for the Cards. Walker greeted him with a double into the RF corner, and stood on second as Cutch, Pedro and Martin all went down swinging.

Bryan Morris took the ball for Pittsburgh to face the middle of the St. Louis order. A lot of defensive X and O's went into the frame, and it worked out, barely. With an out, Holliday singled to right on a routine grounder; Gaby couldn't get to it, as he was playing the line in the no doubles D. Freese took a pitch away into the right field corner; Jones ran it down without much trouble, because he was already deep in the same D. Jay singled to right, just under Gaby's glove, who was anchored at first to hold hold Holliday. Matt Adams, the NL's top pinch hitter (.357), came up. With two strikes, Walker moved from the dirt into short right, and Adams stroked a soft liner that The Kid climbed the ladder to snag.

Edward Mujica took the bump in the ninth and put the Bucs away quietly. Mark the Shark came on. After a grounder, Daniel Descalso hit a lazy fly to left; Marte had it hit the heel of his glove and pop out for a two base error. Melancon K'ed Matt Carpenter and worked around Carlos Beltran, walking him. Allen Craig, with the NL's best RISP average,  dropped a short liner into right to score the tying run as Beltran was caught in a rundown after the fact to end the inning, but the Cards had life again.

Gaby led off the 10th with a single and was bunted to second. Walker moved him to third on a bouncer to first. Cutch grounded to short; Kozma's throw was off line, but fortunately for him down the line a step and Craig managed to make the tag and hang on after a collision to end the frame. Vin Mazzaro took the ball and did exactly what you shouldn't, walking the leadoff batter, Holliday. Rob Johnson laid down a hard bunt to Gaby; his throw to second was in time but off the mark, putting Redbirds at first and second thanks to a diving grab of the toss by Mercer. Jay's bunt moved them up (Mazzaro one hopped the throw to first, but Walker picked it), and an intentional walk loaded the sacks. Vin reared back and threw high cheese past Kozma for a big K, and Descalso, after getting  ahead 2-0, flew out to left center two pitches later to keep the game going.

Kevin Siegrist climbed the mound for the 11th. With one gone, he walked Martin, and with two outs, Josh Harrison bounced one into left. That brought on righty Seth Maness, who K'ed Mercer. Jeanmar Gomez took the hill. Carpenter led off with a single and went to second on a wild pitch. Jay bounced out to the right side, moving him to third. Craig was walked intentionally as the pitcher was due up next due to double switches and the Cards had no bench players left. The Bucs went to a five man infield, with Harrison playing right at second. Instead of having Maness bunt, Matheny had him swing away, and he banged into a 6-9-3 DP; Barmes, in for Mercer, made a low  and offline feed to J-Hay, but he reached out, picked the ball off his ankle and made the turn.

The Bucs went down quietly in the 12th, as did St. Louis. Cutch led off the 13th with a knock and went to second on a wild pitch. Pedro's chopper ended up an infield single to put runners on the corners. with the infield in, Martin hit one to the SS hole; Kozma dove to stop it. It should have scored Cutch, who inexplicably stayed glued to third; maybe he had a bad read on the ball. The Redbirds walked Barmes to load the bases, and Harrison made Matheny look like Einstein when he hit a one hopper to third for an easy 5-3 DP. With two down in the Card half, the no double D cost the Bucs a double when Carpenter dropped a flare into short left; by the time Marte got to it, Carpenter had enough to sneak into second. Clint Hurdle then walked Beltran and Craig to get to Maness, and Gomez K'ed him.

Sam Freeman took over in the 14th. Marte walked with two down, but between throws to the bag, Freeman had enough left to K Walker. Jared Hughes trotted in from the pen. With an out, Jay hit one sharply at Barmes; it came up on him and bounced into left for what was ruled a single. He stole second, mainly on Hughes' kick, and came in when Adron Chambers slapped a 2-2 meatball the opposite way to left and Marte's throw was just a hair to the first base side of the plate, allowing hJay to just beat Martin's swipe.

It was a game the Bucs could have had, but didn't deserve. The fielding was good play, bad play, and another 1-for-12 with RISP did them in (the only hit was Pedro's infield single). St. Louis was just marginally better, stranding 17 runners, though that was inflated by Matheny's odd decision to bat the pitcher in the middle of the order with no bench to hit for him. As baseball goes, it was a pretty poor performance by both clubs, though as entertainment, it did provide some high drama.

Francisco Liriano and Shelby Miller go at it tomorrow night.

  • Starling Marte's 34 steals are the most by a Pirate since Tony Womack swiped 58 in 1998. It was only the second stolen base this year off Wainwright, who usually has the injured Yadier Molina as his catcher.
  • Jose Tabata was a late scratch from the lineup with flu-like symptoms.

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